The M870 Riot Gun – From Ohio With Love
So there I was about to work out and casually scrolling Facebook while I waited for an album to download when I saw an ad. It displayed a Remington 870 with a very familiar bayonet mount. I immediately clicked, saw something about the Ohio National Guard. I added to cart and purchased it very quickly.
I was glad I did, 15 minutes later they were sold out. The bayonet mount is what caught my eye, I recognized from a famed picture of a Marine with an 870. I learned the bayonet mount he had was rare and nearly impossible to find. When you could find one of these bayonet mounts they cost a lot more than the $229 I just paid for my new M870 Riot gun.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the Remington 870 MK1 I saw in that picture. The MK1 shotguns rock rifle sights and the M870 Riot gun I purchased has a simple bead sight. It also has a 20-inch barrel versus the MK1’s 21-inch barrel. Other than that the shotguns are identical and I was superbly excited to get my hands on a genuine military issue Remington M870 shotgun, especially at the cost of approximately one and a half Hi-Points.
Down and Dirty with M870 Riot Gun
The M870 Riot Gun is a 12 gauge shotgun, pump action of course. It has a 20-inch barrel and can hold 7+1 2 ¾ shells. The bayonet mount and sight are one clamp that goes around the barrel and magazine extension. The gun will fit an M7 or M9 bayonet. It’s a massive beast with the wood furniture, and it tips the scales at nearly 9 pounds. This is a fighting shotgun, and its capacity and weight testify to that.
The models being sold were of varying quality, and I feel good about my model. The internals are spotless, and bluing is rich and gorgeous. The wood stock and pump are dinged up but still in excellent condition. The gun is from a time where Remington didn’t mess around with QC. This 870 is a Wingmaster, and I got sling swivels and the old Silent Sling with it.
The M870 Riot Gun – A History of Service
The Remington 870, in general, has a bit of a history as a service shotgun. Around Vietnam, they were adopted to serve various roles by the Marines, and from all accounts, they were well liked but like most shotguns serve a niche role. The SEALs reportedly adopted the 870 for Vietnam use, and the military still uses the M870MCS system.
These particular weapons were issued to the Ohio National Guard and are marked as such with ONG and a large engraving of the state of Ohio on the receiver. The guns come in folding stock configurations as well as fixed stock models. The guns were built in the early 70s and had been issued and used by the Ohio National Guard in two significant incidents.
It’s a Riot!
These guns were issued and utilized in the Lucasville Prison Riots in April 1993. The Prison riot involved a reported 450 prisoners and ended with nine dead prisoners and one dead corrections officer. The Ohio National Guard was called in for additional security, and several photographs from a Buckeye Guard Magazine showed several troops wielding the M870 riot gun.
The M870 was issued to Ohio National Guard Troops as they took over security roles and worked hand in hand with the Ohio Highway Patrol in guarding the perimeter of the prison. This is the role this gun was designed for. Shotguns are short range weapons that deliver tons of damage in a very rapid manner. They are excellent for moving targets, and that’s what a riot generally is.
Outside of their lethality, they could fire less lethal munitions, and the Army did have tear gas launchers that could fit on the end of the barrels. I have no evidence if either of these were employed during the riot but it’s part of the M870’s abilities.
It’s a Hurricane
Then in August 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and the Ohio National Guard were some of the first on the scene, and several were carrying the M870 Riot Gun on their shoulders. New Orleans was not a combat operation, but a humanitarian one. These events generally bring out the best in people, but they also bring the worst in a few. The National Guard did play a role in helping police maintain security for the city, as well as give out food and water, search and rescue missions, and tons of other tasks.
The M870 is a solid fighting weapon that does fit in an urban environment. The Shotgun as a tool is an effective weapon for security, and in a crowded city, the shorter range is an advantage in preventing collateral damage. Again the gun can be implemented in a variety of roles that made it a must bring for the ONG.
Let’s Shoot It
Saying these shotguns have some history is a bit underselling it. They were in service for almost 50 years. Although most of that time was probably in the armory, at least for my model. When I first received the gun, the pump was very stiff and slow. A quick break down and clean was all that was needed to oil it up and clean out the dust.
Once the gun was cleaned it handled like it was nearly new. I took it out with a good mixture of birdshot and buckshot. It’s two and three-quarters only, but I don’t need more than that for a defensive shotgun. It feeds extraordinarily smooth and the rounds load and click into place without protest. It ejects like a champ, it throws the shells consistently and with some real force.
The Weight of a Classic
The weight of the gun helps with recoil, as does the built-in recoil pad. The gun is still a 12 gauge, so it still kicks, and if you are recoil shy, this isn’t the first gun you should pick up. That being said it’s like a light heavyweight in the recoil department.
It patterns how you expect a cylinder bore gun to, meaning its mainly going to be ammo dependent. The Federal Flight control loads patterns extremely tight and makes the weapon effective out to 50 yards with the majority of the pellets striking the chest zone of a target. Your typical buckshot is good out to 25 yards with the majority of the pellets hitting the chest area.
The pump is smooth and feels almost honed. With practice I got fast with this gun. Quick double taps are brutal and efficient with the gun and it’s one of the fastest pump guns I’ve ever handled.
The pump shotgun has long been defined and known for that satisfying chikk-chikk as you pump it and this old Remington gives it to you. It’s a solid and well-made gun, and you can feel just how solid it is by the way the pump moves rearward and forward. There is an authority to it, and there is nothing dainty about it.
This is a real old school Remington made of metal, wood, and discontent. There is no plastic trigger guard or polymer stock. It’s a gun that’s just as capable of being used as a spear as it is a shotgun. I don’t want to sound like my Dad, but this is indeed a case of, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.